National Football League

Colin's All-Time Can't Miss Prospects

January 7

Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence officially declared for the 2021 NFL draft on Wednesday, and is widely expected to be the first pick, sending him to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Lawrence built quite the resume during his time at Clemson, leading the Tigers to a national title as a true freshman in 2018 and winning his first 25 starts before falling to LSU in last season's national championship game.

Lawrenced has made it to the College Football Playoff all three seasons of his collegeg career, and he suffered just the second loss of his career, to Ohio State, less than a week ago.

In addition, Lawrence is fresh off finishing as the runner-up for the 2020 Heisman Trophy.

He'll leave Clemson third in school history in passing yards (10,098) and second in touchdown passes (90), while adding 943 yards on the ground and 18 rushing scores.

And even before he took the field at Clemson, Lawrence was pursued by the Tigers as early as his freshman year in high school, and was the No. 1 overall player in the 2018 class, per 247Sports.

So with all of those accolades in his back pocket, and with individual and team success seemingly following Lawrence to each destination throughout his young career, the question now becomes, just how good will this kid be?

For Colin Cowherd, the answer is simple.

"There have been eight athletes in my life that not only did you talk about them when they declared for a draft, you talked about them for years at the college level or amateur level ... The media can sell hype, but this kid is the ninth. Literally we've been talking about him for three years.

"Trevor Lawrence is gonna be really good."

Cowherd put Lawrence among some rare company, placing him on his personal list of the most-promising prospects who lived up to their potential. 

That list includes John Elway, Peyton Manning, Shaquille O'Neal, LeBron James, Tiger Woods, Bryce Harper, Andrew Luck and Sidney Crosby.

But just how good is that? 

Let's take a quick look at each of their careers and see what Cowherd believes Lawrence can live up to.

1. John Elway

Stanford (four seasons): 9,349 passing yards, 77 passing touchdown, 39 interceptions

NFL: 51,475 passing yards, 300 touchdowns, 226 interceptions, 148-82-1 starting record

Accolades: 2-time Super Bowl champion (XXXII, XXXIII), Super Bowl MVP (XXXIII), NFL MVP (1987), 9-time Pro Bowler

At the conclusion of his four years at Stanford, John Elway owned nearly every Pac-10 passing record. During his sophomore and junior year, Elway won the Pac-10 Player of the Year, and he finished second in Heisman voting after his senior year. He was the first pick in the 1983 NFL Draft, and led Denver to 14 winning seasons in his 16 years with the franchise, as well as two Super Bowls. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004. 

2. Peyton Manning

Tennessee (four seasons): 11,201 passing yards, 89 touchdowns, 33 interceptions (four seasons)

NFL (17 seasons): 71,940, passing yards 539 touchdowns, 251 interceptions, 186-79 starting record

Accolades: 2-time Super Bowl champion (XLI, 50), Super Bowl MVP (XLI), 5-time NFL MVP, 2-time NFL Offensive Player of the Year, 14-time Pro Bowler

Peyton Manning won 39 games at Tennessee, setting the SEC record for career wins, and he also became the Vols' all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns. As a senior, he was named First Team All-American, and won the Maxwell Award and the Davey O'Brien Award. He was drafted first by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1998 NFL Draft, and won a Super Bowl with the Colts and one with the Denver Broncos. He owns the record for most NFL MVP awards (5) and is tied for most Pro Bowl nods (14).

3. Andrew Luck

Stanford (three seasons): 9,430 passing yards, 82 touchdowns, 22 interceptions

NFL (six seasons): 23,671 passing yards, 171 touchdowns, 83 interceptions, 53-33 starting record

Accolades: 4-time Pro Bowler (2012–2014, 2018), NFL Comeback Player of the Year (2018), NFL passing touchdowns leader (2014)

As a junior at Stanford, Andrew Luck was a First Team All-American, Heisman Trophy runner-up, Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year, and First-team All-Pac-12. Luck was selected atop the 2012 NFL Draft, and though he only played six NFL seasons, he found success early and often. He led the Colts to an 11-5 record in each of his first three seasons, and was named to the Pro Bowl four times.

4. Shaquille O'Neal

LSU (three seasons): 21.6 points, 13.5 rebounds, 4.6 blocks per game

NBA (20 seasons): 23.7 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.3 blocks per game

Accolades: 4-time NBA champion (2000–2002, 2006), 3-time NBA Finals MVP (2000–2002), NBA MVP (2000), 15-time NBA All-Star (1993–1998, 2000–2007, 2009)

During his three seasons at LSU, Shaquille O'Neal was a two-time All-American, two-time SEC Player of the Year, and received the Adolph Rupp Trophy as NCAA Men's Basketball Player of the Year in 1991. He was the first pick in the 1992 NBA Draft, and he would famously go on to win three championships with Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, before winning one more with Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat. He is often regarded as the most dominant center in NBA history.

5. LeBron James

High school: Game-by-game breakdown

NBA (18 seasons): 27.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, 7.4 assists

Accolades: 4-time NBA champion (2012, 2013, 2016, 2020), 4-time NBA Finals MVP (2012, 2013, 2016, 2020), 4-time NBA MVP (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013), 16-time NBA All-Star (2005–2020)

Everyone knew LeBron James' name and face coming out of high school. He was "The Chosen One." His senior season, he was named Ohio Mr. Basketball and selected to the USA Today All-USA First Team for the third consecutive year, and was also named Gatorade National Player of the Year for the second straight year. Professionally, he was the top pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, and he's won four rings, four Finals MVPs and four regular season MVPs. Now, he is the favorite to win his fifth title this season.

6. Tiger Woods

Accolades: 5-time Masters Tournament Champion (1997, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2019), 4-time PGA Champion (1999, 2000, 2006, 2007), 3-time U.S. Open Champion (2000, 2002, 2008), 3-time The Open Champion (2000, 2005, 2006)

Colin had an anecdote for this one: "I remember Tiger Woods had an agent at 11. I remember people saying he's the greatest golfer of all-time, and he was 16." Woods opted to go to Stanford, where he won his first collegiate event, and as a freshman, was named Pac-10 Player of the Year, NCAA First Team All-American, and Stanford's Male Freshman of the Year. He was the first golfer to win three consecutive U.S. Amateur titles before turning pro. He currently has the second-most major championships in PGA Tour history, and he is tied for first in all-time PGA Tour wins.

7. Bryce Harper

College of Southern Nevada (one season): .443 batting average, 31 home runs, 98 RBIs

MLB (nine seasons): .276 batting average, 1,122 hits, 232 home runs, 668 RBI, 98 stolen bases

Accolades: 6-time All-Star (2012, 2013, 2015–2018), NL MVP (2015), NL Rookie of the Year (2012)

Bryce Harper played his college ball in the SWAC at the College of Southern Nevada. And in that one year, he broke the school's home run record (31) and won the 2010 Golden Spikes Award. He was selected first in the 2010 MLB Draft, and he's been named an All-Star in six of his nine professional seasons.

8. Sidney Crosby

NHL (15 seasons): 462 goals, 801 assists, 1,263 points

Accolades: NHL All-Rookie Team, 8-time NHL All-Star, 4-time NHL First All-Star, 3-time Stanley Cup champion (2009, 2016, 2017), 2-time Hart Memorial Trophy winner, 2-time Conn Smythe Trophy winner

The top pick in the 2005 NHL Draft, Crosby won the Mike Bossy Trophy as the QMJHL's best prospect before turning pro. He's played his entire 15-year career with the Pittsburgh Penguins, leading the franchise to three Stanley Cup victories, and twice being named the most valuable player in the playoffs via the Conn Smythe Trophy.


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